Legal professionals have been sprinting to answer questions that the COVID-19 pandemic raises about our work, finances, and personal lives. No more easily can this effort be witnessed than through the members of the LexBlog Network.
In the months before COVID-19 dominated the news cycle, LexBlog aggregated 150 to 200 posts daily from its network of legal bloggers. Since mid–March, the daily average has increased to upwards of 300. Firms are not only blogging more than ever and starting new blogs rapidly, but some bloggers have pivoted completely to meet readers’ changing needs.
How legal blogging has changed
As an immigration lawyer, Greg Siskind, founding partner of national immigration firm Siskind Susser, is familiar with rapid, tumultuous change. Yet, the last few weeks have probably been “the most serious in my 30 years of practice,” he said.
With new information coming out so quickly, Siskind publishes about six posts daily on the Coronavirus Immigration Blog. The firm also offers free access to the Travel Ban Advisor app, and has updated it to include coronavirus-related travel bans.
Many bloggers, such as Jamie LaPlante, Of Counsel at Bailey Cavalieri, have also found themselves blogging more frequently. LaPlante has been incredibly diligent in reporting on breaking news at the intersection of employment law and COVID-19. She publishes new information everyday on her Ohio Employment Law Matters blog, in large part because she has to update or supersede outdated posts because laws are changing so quickly, she said.
Others have taken their publications in an entirely new direction, such as Bill Henderson, Professor at Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. His publication, Legal Evolution, formerly published academic theory and analysis of innovations in law. Now, Legal Evolution has opened up as a public service channel, crowdsourcing personal and professional reflections.
COVID-19 “is not merely disruptive—it involves life and death and tremendous hardship for so many, and likely for a prolonged duration,” Henderson said. “Against this reality, the typical substance of Legal Evolution seems trivial and potentially eclipsed by a future none of us anticipated or planned for.”
The fact is, we are going to live through this pandemic seeing the same world very differently, he said. He wants to tap into that changing thought process as soon as possible to learn what is happening in the community.
Legal marketing professional Stefanie Marrone has also pivoted. Through her blog, The Social Media Butterfly, she demonstrates her mastery of social media, marketing, and business development, while frequently weaving in inspirational advice and personal stories. With COVID-19, she has shifted to also include crucial information on managing mental health and how to market appropriately with sensitivity during this time.
“The worst thing you could right now when it comes to marketing and business development is to do nothing, ” Marrone said. She writes to inspire readers to continue to market themselves, “just with a more empathetic and helpful tone.”
Beyond their primary publications, some bloggers are also immersing themselves in new projects. For instance, hosts of the The Geek in Review podcast, Marlene Gebauer and Greg Lambert, have both created projects with remote working as the topic.
Gebauer’s new daily ILTA mini-blog presents quick updates on the skills needed while working from home.
“I want to tie seemingly unrelated concepts together in the space of Knowledge Management/Innovation with a thought-provoking soundbite,” Gebauer said.
Lambert’s daily podcast miniseries “In Seclusion,” features legal professionals sharing their work from home stories.
“I hope that others will listen and understand that they are not alone in their frustrations or fears,” he said.
The need for increased legal blogging
With a flurry of information coming out daily, people are looking to legal professionals more than ever. Legal blogging amid a pandemic is a necessity—not only for the clear guidance, but also for demonstrating solidarity and connection.
“In this time of crisis our blog has demonstrated to be a very powerful communication tool for our firm and our clients,” said Frank Crivelli, partner at Crivelli & Barbati and blogger at New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog.
His firm represents law enforcement officials in every county in New Jersey and he has taken an advocacy approach in reporting the unique challenges law enforcement officials face due to COVID-19. With many departments facing the same issues, the blog allows his team to offer novel solutions that can be shared with all their clients across the state.
Siskind, who is also taking an advocacy approach, hopes his blog will give government officials a more comprehensive view of COVID-19’s effects on immigration.
While it may seem that more blogging might contribute to readers’ information overload, legal bloggers are in a unique position to provide niche commentary—which was true before the pandemic, but is even more obvious now.
“The most important service that we have always brought to our readers, and will continue to during this time is accurate, relevant and current content that can help them with their operational and compliance needs,” said Linn Freedman, partner at Robinson & Cole. Freedman is one of the most prolific bloggers tracking cybersecurity law and updates, and has been at the forefront of reporting on COVID-19 related scams and risks.
“A strong mission that we have is to provide a one-stop place where they can get easy to understand content in a complex area of law, and to give them resources so they don’t have to hunt around on their own,” she said.
Franczek’s education attorney Kendra Yoch echoed similar thoughts. She blogs at Special Education Law Insights and has been reporting on issues at the intersection of special education law and COVID-19.
“We want our readers to not just have easy access to that information, but to understand the key takeaways, implications, and next issues to prepare for,” she said.
“I’m mixing in a few personal anecdotes too,” he said. “Which I think everyone needs right now.”
Lessons learned through blogging on COVID-19
Increased blogging has had a two-fold impact in educating both readers of legal news and legal professionals themselves.
Siskind, for instance, is using his blog to not only keep clients informed, but to keep his own team informed and provide a venue for sharing news. He returns to the blog regularly to refresh his memory on what has changed or remained the same.
And this entire pandemic has undoubtedly changed many people’s priorities and the role they play in their respective communities. For Schwartz, it has given him “a renewed focus on what’s important and what isn’t.”
If legal blogging in the era of COVID-19 has shown anything, it is that legal professionals are highly skilled at dealing with confusing and stressful situations. But more importantly, that they are always ready to share their expertise and offer a light to those who need it.
“I want them to know that I am a resource that is here to help them.” he said. “All hope is not lost. We can work together and help each other get back on solid footing.”